Saudi Arabia says foiled plot to bomb World Cup qualifier

Saudi Arabian fans wave flags during the country's 2018 World Cup qualifying football match against UAE in Jeddah on Oct 11, 2016.
Saudi Arabian fans wave flags during the country's 2018 World Cup qualifying football match against UAE in Jeddah on Oct 11, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

RIYADH (AFP) - Saudi authorities said on Sunday (Oct 30) they had foiled a plot to bomb a football stadium during a World Cup qualifying match and dismantled two "terrorist" cells linked to the Islamic State group (ISIS).

The interior ministry said in a statement that four suspects from each cell had been arrested.

One of the cells had planned to park a bomb-laden vehicle outside Al-Jawhara stadium in the Red Sea city of Jeddah during an Oct 11 World Cup 2018 qualifying football match between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the ministry said.

Its members were two Pakistanis, a Syrian, and a Sudanese, the ministry said, without providing further details of the plot or arrests.

The other group had been plotting attacks against security forces and its members had received orders from an ISIS leader in Syria, the ministry said.

Its alleged members were based in Shaqra, north-west of Riyadh, and are all Saudis, the ministry statement said, adding that the suspects had all confessed.

Six other Saudis were detained and were being questioned over alleged links to the cell, it added.

Since late 2014, ISIS has claimed a series of bombings and shootings against Shi'ites in the Sunni-majority kingdom, as well against security forces.

ISIS group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has called for attacks against Saudi Arabia, which belongs to the US-led coalition bombing the extremists in Syria and Iraq.